AHGP Transcription Project

Audrain County

Audrain County, in the north-east-central part of the State, is bounded north by Monroe and Ralls, east by Pike and Montgomery, south by Montgomery, Callaway and Boone, and west by Boone and Randolph Counties, and has an area of 441,927 acres.

Population in 1840, 1,949; in 1850, 3,506; in 1860, 8,075; in 1870, 12,307; of whom 11,237 were white, and 1,070 colored; 6,417 male, and 5,890 female; 11,720 native, (6,433 born in Missouri) and 587 foreign.

The first settlement of the county was made in 1830 by emigrants from Kentucky, who were soon followed by others from North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. The county was organized and the county seat located, Dec. 17, 1836. In these early days, when settlements were very few, and the population sparse, the people were much troubled by wolves, which made havoc among their domestic animals. The prairies abounded with elk, deer and bears, which afforded hunting sport as well as sustenance to the pioneers.

Previous to 1854, the larger portion of the lands in Audrain, were still held by the Government. In that year they were sold under the "Graduation Act," and most of them brought a "bit" an acre. This sale drew many inhabitants from adjoining counties, and the cabins of "homesteaders" arose all over the rolling prairies. Many of these still stand, but are gradually giving place to the finer dwellings of the thrifty and wealthier inhabitants of today.

Physical Features
Audrain lies on the "divide," between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. The surface of the country is generally high and rolling, prairie land predominating. The soil is usually a clayey loam, with clay sub-soil that retains moisture and consequently responds liberally to the application of fertilizers, and is therefore susceptible of a very high state of cultivation. There is sufficient sand in the soil to warm it up early in the spring, thus giving vegetation the advantage of the entire season. But little of the land is too rough to plow or too low to produce good crops.

There are no streams in the county large enough to deserve the name of rivers, although one is so called. Salt River, Reese's Fork, Long Branch, Young's Creek, South Creek, Davis' Fork, Beaver Dam, Littleby and Lick Creeks, all tributaries of Salt River, and the West Fork of Cuivre River in the eastern part of the county, afford an abundant supply of water for stock at all times. There are but few natural springs, water for domestic purposes being mainly obtained from wells or cisterns.

Timber is abundant along the streams, and much of it is of good quality for sawing. White oak, hickory and black oak are most abundant, while burr oak, elm, maple, walnut, sycamore, linn or basswood and birch are found in plentiful supply, and of a size suitable for lumber.

The Agricultural Productions are chiefly hay, corn, wheat, oats, rye and buckwheat. Potatoes and sweet potatoes succeed well. Tobacco was formerly cultivated to some extent, but since the war has not been much grown. Recently considerable attention has been given to fruit-raising, to which the climate and soil are adapted, and large orchards have been planted. Small fruits have not, so far, received the attention which they merit, but those who have engaged in their cultivation have been well rewarded. Grapes yield remarkably well.

Not half of the arable land is yet subjected to tillage. Thousands of acres of wild prairie remain unenclosed over which flocks and herds roam at liberty. The leading business of the farmers of Audrain is stock-raising. No better grass producing country exists than this portion of Missouri, and cattle, mules, sheep and swine are raised by thousands.

The Manufacturing Interests of Audrain, outside of Mexico, have not been developed to any extent, being confined to a few saw and grist mills.

Valuation of the county per census of 1870, $8,503,407.*

There are 62 miles of railroad in the county, of which the St. Louis, Kansas City & Northern Railway have 27 and the Chicago & Alton Railroad 35 miles. The railroad debt is $200,000.

The Exports consist of hay, oats, corn, horses, mules, cattle and hogs.

Audrain County is well supplied in all its sub-districts with public schools, many of them having commodious and well furnished buildings already completed, while others are in course of construction. The system has been adopted since 1865.

Through the munificence of Hon. Charles H. Hardin, State Senator from this district, the "Hardin College" for young ladies, has recently been founded, and opened its first session with 100 scholars. Mr. Hardin generously gave the buildings and ten acres of ground, besides endowing it with $40,000. A private subscription of $30,000 is now being raised to erect a larger and more substantial edifice. This institution is located in Mexico, the county seat.

Audrain County Places in 1875

Barneyville, See Hickory Creek.

Benton City, on the St. L., K. C. & N. R. W., 7 miles east of Mexico, contains 1 general store.

Farber, on the C. & A. R. R., 19 miles east of Mexico, has 1 store, 1 grocery, 1 hotel and several shops.

Hickory Creek (Barneyville) is a post office 22 miles east of Mexico.

John's Branch is a post office 11 miles east of Mexico.

Ladonia, on the C. & A. R. R., 15 miles east north east of Mexico, has a population of about 200 and contains a good school house and 2 stores.

Le Roy, a post office 10 miles east north east of Mexico.

Littleby, a post office 9 miles north east of Mexico.

Martinsburgh, on the St. L., K. C. & N. R. W., 14 miles south east of Mexico, has a population of about 500. It has 1 church, 1 school house, 6 stores and a cheese factory.

MEXICO, the county seat, is situated at the junction of the L. & M. R. R. R. (Mo. Br. of C. & A.) with the St. L., K. C. & N. R. W. about 108 miles from St. Louis, 51 miles from Jefferson City and 325 miles from Chicago. It was laid off as a town in 1836 by Smith & Mansfield, but being so far inland did not make much progress in population or business for twenty years. At length the opening of the N. M. R. R. in 1857 gave vigor to the apathetic town, and, arousing from the Rip Van Winkle sleep, she made rapid strides in wealth and population, until now the latter reaches 5,000, and she has become an important shipping and commercial point. Her trade extends 40 or 50 miles into the country, in all directions. Besides a handsome public school edifice, where over 600 pupils are in attendance, it has the Hardin College, already noticed under the head of Education. It has 8 churches, Baptist, M. E. Church, M. E. Church South, Christian, Catholic, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Baptist, Colored Baptist and Methodist; aggregate value about $80,000. It also has 1 merchant flouring mill, 2 grist and saw mills, 1 woolen and carriage factory, 2 wagon shops, 1 plow factory, 1 machine shop, 1 soap and candle factory, 4 job printing offices and newspapers: Missouri Messenger, published by Milton F. Simmons; Intelligencer, published by Hutton & Jacks; Leader, published by J. Linn Ladd, and the Agriculturalist, published by W. G. Church. Mexico has many natural advantages as a manufacturing center. The railroads afford easy access to all parts of the country, while fuel is abundant and cheap, and in addition to this all manufacturing enterprises are exempt from taxation for many years to come.

Thompson's Station, on the St. L., K. C. & N. R. W., 5 miles north west of Mexico, and has 1 general store.

Vandalia, on the C. & A. R. R., 24 miles east north east of Mexico, has a population of about 300, with 5 stores, 1 wagon shop, etc.

Young's Creek is a post office 10 miles north north west of Mexico.

*Assessed valuation for 1873, $4,643,289. Taxation, $1.95 per $100. Bonded debt $210,000.

Source: Campbell's Gazetteer of Missouri, Revised Edition, by R. A. Campbell, Published by R. A. Campbell,
St. Louis, Missouri, 1875

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